Upper Tamakoshi inks Rs 6b loan deal with Nepal Telecom
KATHMANDU, May 12: Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Limited (UTKHPL) signed a loan agreement for Rs 6 billion with Nepal Telecom on Thursday.
Project Director and Officiating Chief Executive Officer of UTKHPL Mrigendra Bahadur Shrestha and Acting Managing Director of Nepal Telecom Kanhaiya Lal Gupta signed the agreement in the presence of Energy Minister Gokarna Bista and Information and Communications Minister Agni Prasad Sapkota.
Departmental Chief of Employees´ Provident Fund (EPF) Shyam Kumar Khatri, Deputy Managing Director of Nepal Telecom Buddhi Prasad Acharya, Chief Administrator of Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) Arjun Lal Rajbanshi, Chief Administrator of Rastriya Beema Sansthan (RBS) Jitendra Nath Rimal and Manager of UTKHPL Bigyan Prasad Shrestha signed as witnesses to the loan agreement.
UTKPHL will be the biggest hydropower project in the country with an installed capacity of 456 MW when it comes into operation in 2015. “We will complete the project in the stipulated time at any cost. We will even work round the clock in three shifts if needed for scheduled completion of project,” Energy Minister Gokarna Bista vowed.
“The international community and donors are skeptical about our ability to complete such a big project in timely fashion. This is not just a project but an issue of national pride and we have to complete it in time,” Energy Secretary Shital Babu Regmi added.
The daily peaking run-of-the-river project, which will provide 456 MW electricity for four hours a day even during dry season, is expected to provide significant relief from loadshedding when it comes into operation in 2015. At present the installed capacity of the country is 702 MW while the peak demand in dry season is 950 MW. The country has been facing loadshedding of up to 16 hours during dry season as production is far below installed capacity due to lower water levels in the rivers. The majority of the projects in the country are run of the river types.
Experts forecast peak power demand to rise up to 1,400 MW by 2015 and say at least another 200 MW will be produced by then, apart from UTKHPL. “We will be able to meet our demand at normal times after the completion of UTKHPL. If we construct high-voltage cross-border transmission lines and import 150-200 MW, we will not have any load-shedding even during dry season,” a hydropower expert predicted.
With Thursday´s signing, the Rs 35.29 billion project has attained financial closure as UTKHPL has already signed loan agreements with EPF for Rs 10 billion, with CIT for Rs 2 billion and RBS for Rs 2 billion and the government has agreed to provide the remaining amount of Rs 11.08 billion as loan. The company already signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) on December 29.
NEA will have 41percent ownership of the mega-project while Nepal Telecom (6 percent), CIT (2), RBS (2) are the other shareholders. Fifteen percent of shares will be allotted to the general public, 10 percent to residents of Dolakha district and the rest to the contributors to EPF, UTKHPL, NEA staff, and staff of debtor institutions.
Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal is scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the project in Lamabagar, Dolakha on May 18.